A $25 billion dogecoin whale lurks, but Robinhood CEO says ‘we don’t have significant positions in any of the coins we keep’

‘Any coins that we hold are for the purposes of sort of providing access in holdings for our customers. We don’t have significant positions in any of the coins that we keep on a proprietary basis or anything like that.’

That’s Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood Markets, speaking at a “fireside chat” on Thursday hosted by the popular brokerage platform, attempting to dispel any lingering speculation that Robinhood may be a so-called dogecoin DOGEUSD, -10.63% whale, maintaining a massive stockpile of the cryptocurrency for its own benefit.

Read: SEC chief warns of growing monopoly power among market makers, retail brokers at GameStop hearing

Back in February, digital-asset enthusiasts became briefly obsessed with speculation linking Robinhood to a dogecoin wallet address that was valued at around $2.1 billion.

The Wall Street Journal in February reported that it had identified records that showed that a person, or entity, owned about 28% of all of dogecoin in circulation — a stake worth about $2.1 billion at the time. 

That stake is presently worth more than $25 billion at dogecoin’s current value of around 60 cents per coin, according to CoinDesk data, translating to roughly 42 billion doge, assuming the address didn’t accumulate or sell any coins since February.

Bloomberg quoted Tom Robinson, chief scientist and co-founder of Elliptic, as saying that his data pointed squarely to Robinhood as the holder of the crypto cache. “It almost certainly belongs to Robinhood,” he said. “The timing of its creation, and the creation of the addresses that it received funds from, match the timing of Robinhood’s support of dogecoin.”

Robinhood began offering dogecoin trading to its customers in July 2018.

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Robinhood’s new crypto-focused chief operating officer, Christine Brown, who also was featured in the fireside discussion, said that she wanted to put a finer point on the brokerage’s role in crypto. “To put like a superfine point on it, on behalf of the firm, we do not trade, hold or lend. We don’t take part in any activity when it comes, you know, to cryptocurrency. The only thing that we do is we, at the direction of our customers, buy and sell on their behalf and custody in a segregated manner,” Brown said.

Tenev said that Robinhood has been learning how to cope with a surge in demand for dogecoin on its platform, which has led to a number of outages on its trading apps in recent days. Bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.15% and more recently dogecoin have been at the center of a surge in interest in crypto assets on Robinhood.

Dogecoin has risen more than 12,500% so far in 2021 and has gained nearly 100% in the year to date. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.93% is up about 12% and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.82% has gained over 11% thus far this year.

Bullish doge investors are hoping that the “Saturday Night Live” guest-host appearance of Elon Musk, one of the biggest champions of doge and the CEO of Tesla Inc. TSLA, -1.10%, could provide a fresh catalyst for the meme stock.

See: Elon Musk asked Twitter for ‘SNL’ sketch ideas. Guess how that went?

Check out Robinhood’s crypto fireside chat here:

Robinhood is planning to go public at some point and has been trying to bolster its relationship with customers months after its decision back in January to limit trading in some stocks, including GameStop Corp. GME, +0.96%.

Robinhood has added millions of customers rapidly, both on its traditional brokerage platform and in its burgeoning crypto unit, and that hasn’t come without growing pains.

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